Drug policy not in sight
Govt slacks on price control of 91pc drugsSajia Afrin
The drug policy, which is supposed to update the list of essential drugs, is not in sight, while the increase in the prices of drugs goes unabated as the government do not control prices of 91 per cent of the drugs that are not on the list in breach of law.
The pharmaceutical companies have reportedly increased the prices of drugs in three phases in 2013.
Health activists and experts feared that the pharmaceutical companies were pressurising the government causing the delay in framing the policy
The ruling Awami League in its election manifesto for the 2008 general elections pledged, ‘An appropriate pharmaceutical policy to bring self- sufficiency in the production of medicines of international standard and to promote their export will be formulated.’
Although a draft policy has been prepared, none can say when it would be placed before the cabinet.
A committee started preparing the draft of the policy about two years ago and under the committee, a subcommittee prepare a list of essential drugs, committee sources said.
The committee submitted the draft policy to the health ministry over 10 months ago, said health ministry sources.
Health secretary MM Niaz Uddin in June told New Age, ‘The ministry will take three more months to place the draft policy before the cabinet.’
The health ministry sent the draft policy to different ministries asking for their comments in the middle of June, he had said.
‘We hope that the concern ministries will send us their comments by the first week of July,’ he had said.
Officials in the ministry said that the ministry was yet to get the opinions.
According to health and drug experts, more than 1,300 generic drugs, including combination drugs, are being manufactured in the country, while the government controls the prices of only 117 of them, which are on the list of commonly used drugs.
Section 11 of the Drug Control Ordinance 1982 stipulates, that ‘the government may, by notification in the official gazette, fix the maximum price at which any medicine may be sold’ and ‘any pharmaceutical raw material may be imported or sold’.
Directorate General of Drug Administration director Salim Barami said that the drug administration was unable to control the prices of all drugs as a notification issued by the health ministry on February 26, 1994 empowered it to control the prices of commonly used drugs only.
The government’s action in controlling the drug price is a clear violation of the law and the notification is illegal, as no notification or rules can overrule any law, said former Bangladesh Medical Association president Rashid-e-Mahbub, Dhaka University pharmaceutical technology department dean ABM Faroque and BRAC University school of law director Shahdeen Malik, also a Supreme Court lawyer.
The government do not even control the prices of the essential drugs, although the existing list of essential drugs in Bangladesh include only 209 drugs, while the World Health Organisation’s list includes 348, said a pharmacology professor at Bangabndhu Sheikh Mujib Medial University.
Although the government has initiated a move to update the list of essential drugs and commonly used drugs, the experts have questioned its sincerity, as it is yet to finalise the lists the submitted by a committee about one year ago.
According to sources in the health ministry, the committee has recommended 304-308 drugs for the updated list of essential drugs.
The government, however, will not be ‘able’ to fix the prices of all the essential drugs, health minister AFM Ruhal Haque had said in February.
‘We will negotiate with the drug manufacturers to fix the prices of the maximum drugs proposed on the list,’ he had said.
The health experts feared that Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries would create huge pressure on the government not to fix the prices of maximum number of drugs even from the list of essential drugs.
The success of the negotiation will, however, depend on whether the government will opt to create election funds from drug companies or to secure vote by ensuring drugs for people at affordable prices through price control, the experts said.
The government is legally bound to control prices of all drugs and it cannot ignore the legal duty in the name of essential drugs or commonly used drugs, the experts said.
Most of the drug companies are also avoiding fixation of prices of a number of the commonly used drugs by preparing a combination drug with an active ingredient of other drugs, price of which are not controlled, they said.
Health activists and experts expressed dissatisfaction over the delay in framing the policy and observed that the pharmaceutical companies made the pressure on the government for delaying the process.
‘The large pharmaceutical companies do not want to come under regulation of the government,’ said Shastha Andolan executive director Farida Akhter.
As it recommends controlling the prices of many more drugs, the companies are pursuing not to pass the policy, she added.
The health experts urged the government to fix prices of all drugs immediately in accordance with the law.
comments powered by Disqus
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, is likely to embark on a mass contact campaign across the country after Eid-ul-Fitr to mobilise support before going for the final phase of the movement to push an election-time ‘non-party’ government. The opposition’s... Full story
The government has decided to complete appointment of 200 factory inspectors by October 15 as part of action plan for regaining GSP benefits for Bangladeshi products in the US market, commerce minister GM Quader said. The government has also asked the factory owners to reinstate... Full story
The Appellate Division on Monday rejected a petition filed by Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami for staying a High Court verdict that declared its registration with the Election Commission as a political party illegal and unconstitutional. The vacation judge in chamber, Justice AHM Shamsuddin... Full story
At least 40 people, including three cops, were injured in clashes as the police dispersed garments workers who were demonstrating for immediate payment of wages and festival allowances in Gazipur and Savar on Monday. New Age correspondent in Gazipur reported that 33 people, including three cops, were injured in clash at Masterbari under sadar upazila. Full story
The authorities destroyed nearly 1,600 acres of crop land, forests, orchards and water bodies in Kaliganj under Gazipur district for creating Purbachal New Town, a government housing project, about 16 km from the capital. Flanked by the rivers, Balu and Sitalakhya, the township is partially curved out of Rupganj upazila in... Full story
The 72nd anniversary of the death of poet Rabindranath Tagore, who reshaped the Bangla literature and music, will be observed in Bangladesh today, the 22nd day of the Bengali month of Sraban. Tagore, the first non-European and first Asian litterateur to win the Nobel prize in 1913, was a poet, playwright, novelist, educationist, social reformer, artist and composer. Full story
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Monday directed the leaders and activists of Bangladesh Awami Sechchhasebak League to give a befitting reply to the propaganda of the opposition against the Awami League side by side with projecting the successes of the present government to the people. Full story
Former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Azam on Monday appealed to the Appellate Division against his conviction for the crimes he had committed against humanity during the Liberation War and the 90-year imprisonment handed down by an international crimes tribunal. Full story
US diplomatic posts in 19 cities in the Muslim world will be closed at least through the end of this week, amid online ‘chatter’ about terror threats, the State Department said. The spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates closed is a sign of an... Full story
Most of the works under the Dhaka-Chittagong Railway Development Project are running at a snail’s pace, said officials. Bangladesh Railway general manager and the project co-ordinator Mohammad Anwarul Kabir told New Age that the Tk 2,540 crore project had been approved on November 2007. Full story
Grameen Bank needs no reforms, its chairman Mozammel Haque said on Monday. He also made it clear that GB was functioning smoothly toeing the lines set by its founding managing director Muhammad Yunus. He, however, said the government should track down the whereabouts of the revenue... Full story
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday said Tarique Rahman was not privileged to hold his position in the party as the senior vice-chairman, rather he achieved it by his own merit. ‘His political position was not a privileged offer by influential quarters. He is holding the position... Full story
Fresh international efforts were underway in Egypt on Monday to find a peaceful end to the crisis sparked by the military’s overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. The EU envoy Bernardino Leon met with prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi after US deputy secretary of state... Full story
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, and the leader of the opposition, Khaleda Zia, on Monday exchanged greetings on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, likely to be celebrated on August 9. Prime minister’s protocol officer Sheikh Akther Hossain handed over her Eid card to assistant private secretary to... Full story
A worker at the Chittagong port died after he was hit by a crane on Monday. The Chittagong Port police superintendent, Abdul Gafur, said the accident occurred around 8:00am within the port complex. The deceased Abdus Sattar, 40, son of late Mir Ahmad of Comilla’s Manaharganj, died... Full story
The cabinet on Monday formed a committee to review recommendations of the 8th Wage Board that proposed increased pay structures for journalists and press workers. The information ministry placed a draft gazette on the 8th Wage Board award at the weekly cabinet meeting for... Full story
A gang of robbers Sunday night looted a jewelry shop at Kismat market under Shiddhirganj in Narayanganj. Shop owner of Ritu Jewelry Md Mohiuddin claimed that the robbers tied up two salesmen and blasted bombs while looting 22 tolas of gold ornament and cash worth Tk 1.20 lakh. Full story